One Year Only: 1974 Datsun 260Z

The Datsun Zed car range went through a period of general unpopularity during the early 1980s, but they have experienced a significant resurgence over the past 15 to 20 years. The 260Z was only sold in the US for one year but remained in production in other countries until 1978. The most desirable vehicle in the 260Z range was the 2-seater, as it offered a significant weight reduction over the 2+2. This 260Z is just such a car, and you will find it listed for sale here on eBay. It is located in Snohomish, Washington, and is being sold with a clear title.

The majority of project-grade 260Zs that appear on the market these days require at least some rust repairs as part of the restoration process. This can range from pretty minor work to pretty major. This is a car full of good news. It is a solid car, with very little rust. There are few spots of surface corrosion, but even the highly susceptible battery tray has been spared the ravages of major rust issues. The car is finished in Light Blue Metallic, but the car has undergone a repaint at some point in its life. There are a few minor issues with external trim, but all of the glass is genuine Nissan glass and is free of any cracks.

The L-Series Datsun engines were built with strength and longevity in mind. Double valve springs and dual-row timing chains allowed them to be revved quite freely, and some versions even scored a forged steel crank as standard. This L26 engine is said to run really well but can be a bit stubborn when cold. This can be a bit of an issue with the standard Hitachi carburetors, and given the age of the car, they will probably benefit hugely from a rebuild. The manual transmission shifts smoothly, although the seller doesn’t specify whether this is the 4-speed or the 5-speed version. Hopefully, it’s the 5-speed, as that overdrive fifth gear does make for quiet and relaxed highway cruising.

The interior has held up quite well over the years and is pretty well original. The dash pad has a crack in it, and the driver’s seat will need a new cover, but the rest of it looks like it will clean up fairly well. Thankfully the vinyl trim that runs along the transmission tunnel below the floor console isn’t torn and should be able to be cleaned successfully. That trim is no longer in production, although there are some upholsterers who can simulate its distinctive look out of plain vinyl with the right grain.

The 260Z, especially the 2-seater, is a great car to drive. That willing L26 engine, a slick manual transmission, and independent rear suspension make for a rewarding driving experience. People have recognized this, and it is now really difficult to find a half-reasonable car under $15,000. From there, the prices rise quite steeply. The popularity of the 260Z is reflected in the activity in this eBay auction. There are 12 people who are bidding on the car quite solidly, and bidding has reached $3,350. The really tempting thing is the fact that it is being sold in a No Reserve auction. That has to make it tempting.

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Comments

  1. 81zxturbo

    No 5 speed was offered as an option until 1977 in the 280z.

  2. Gloin

    Nissan’s version of the slant six, these engines are indestructible. I’ve had 3 of these over the years, all 280’s, 2 were lost to rust and 1 was t-boned. All were still running strong so I sold the drivetrains and scrapped the rest. 2 had over 200k miles and 1 was at 175k

    • z1rider

      Slant 6? These engines are not tilted or slanted over and they have an overhead cam, unlike the pushrod Chrysler slant 6. I believe these are considered more of a copy of the period Mercedes 6, used in 220, 250, and 280 badged versions.

      • MattLowe

        I think he meant in terms of reliability

      • Michael Curren

        I believe the OP is referring to the indestructibility

      • Miguel

        z1rider, I think he meant they run forever.

        I don’t agree, but we all have had different experiences.

  3. stillrunners

    Nice example .

  4. Howard A Member

    Ok, it’s no secret ( anymore) that I want to get me one of these. There are plenty. Many are from out west here, or PNW, and have little or no rust, but these cars all have close to 200G’s. I’m a huge fan of the in line 6, chain driven OHC, even better, no need for a turbo, but just getting over a terrible experience with a Honda Civic with 200k, I’m a bit leery doing that again. I realize, there’s no comparison between the 2 cars, but if I buy one with 170k, and there are some really clean ones, can I take the car cross country without worrying if I’m going to spin a rod bearing in Nowhere, Neb. Fuel injection reliable?. I can fix a leaky clutch cylinder, but engine work is beyond me. Anybody want to trade a ’77 GMC short box( plus cash) for one?

    • Miguel

      Howard, if the engine has been rebuilt, why worry?

      • Howard A Member

        It’s not the engine so much, but suspension, electrical. I know there’s a huge following for vintage British car parts, but does Datsun have that same following. I can see it now, stuck in Bugtussle, Neb. ( sorry to pick on Nebraska, but that has to be the most boring state to drive through) at “Picken’s Auto Repair” with a bad rear half shaft U joint. “Sorry, they stopped making replacements in 1986”. Hey, don’t laugh, I went through that with an older Suzuki ATV.

  5. Bob_S

    Same color combination as the one I bought when I was 21, it was 2 yrs old at the time. It was a great car until a full size Monte Carlo didn’t stop for a red light and it instantly shrunk a 1 foot & 1/2. Miss that car.

  6. Chuck

    After several Triumphs, I had four “Z-cars” back in the day. Two 240s, One 260 and one 280 and I loved all of them. Decided I’d rather have a Porsche when they became “ZXs”. Hated those as well as the body styles that followed. (Now, after 30 years of Porsches, I’m back to the Triumphs, lol. Maybe if I live long enough, I’ll move on to these again.)

    • Miguel

      Chuck, which of the models you had gave you the least amount of problems?

      I have always been told the 1976 with fuel injection was the best most reliable car made up to that point. Is that right?

      • Oddimotive Cason

        If you don’t mind learning to tune dual carbs, the early cars (70-72 240Z) are perfectly reliable. The 73 240Z introduced the “flat top” carbs and other emissions equipment that makes them harder to keep running reliably. They’re also the slowest of all S30 (first gen) Z cars.

        The 260Z (1974 and some early 1975 cars) was an attempt to offset the 73’s sluggishness with displacement. It only partially worked and the vapor lock and other issues carried over.

        Most 1975s are 280Zs and this is when Bosch-licensed fuel injection was introduced to avoid the issues with getting carbs to pass emissions. The 280 was largely the same through 1978, but did add EGR in either ’76 or ’77 (my non-California ’75 doesn’t have EGR). I don’t hear a lot about EGR problems – some people just prefer to remove it because the intake without it looks cleaner…

  7. MikeH

    This was the last year before catalytic converters were mandated. The power was upped to try to maintain performance while automakers struggled with strangling emission controls. The 260 had a reputation for being difficult to keep in tune. It barely passed emissions tests even when it was in perfect turn. 1974 was a difficult year for all cars, but the 260Z was a car to be avoided. Now that it’s 25 years old, I wonder how much of that emissions stuff can be removed.

  8. Chuck

    The worst one was the ’73. It suffered from vapor lock quite often. The best was the ’77 followed by the ’74. The ’74 was actually a ’74 1/2. It had the crash bumpers. I bought it used and it had a brand new engine in it due to a dealer performed oil change gone wrong. I bought the ’77 new. I owned two at a time for quite a few years. Back then I only kept vehicles two or three years at the most.

  9. Don Schmitz

    The ’74 carbs were complicated, people tried removing hoses to ‘desmog’ them and made then worse. Many have between refitted with the earlier SU style carbs. 40 years on, the carbureted cars are easier to maintain than the FI cars just due to the simplicity of the carbs.

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